Last week, I had a golf lesson at the Homestead in Virginia. Somehow I was blessed to be paired with Mark Frye, rated the third best professional in the state. He took a look at my swing and said we need to work on my GAS. Thankfully, not my digestive system, but the fundamentals: grip, addressing the ball, and stance. My stance looked something like the Hunchback of Notre Dame which he showed me on video replay- a humbling experience. He assured me that I could improve my swing by starting with my pitching wedge. My new process is to grip lightly, get comfortable with the club next to the ball, then stand up straight. There I am holding my arms straight in front of my body with my club in front of my face like a warrior holding a sword. Next, bend at the waist a lot, flex the knees a little, and keep my chin up. I took a big swing and missed the ball completely. Yep, a whiff. Like an air ball in basketball or a strike in baseball, it is a feeling of complete failure and lack of skill. We both laughed as I said, ” Keep my eye on the ball, right?” My next shot was incredible and I started hitting a hundred yards with my pitching wedge! I told Mark he was a fabulous teacher and he declared me a good student and an athlete. Woo hoo!. Then we progressed to my eight iron which I never use. He required me to say the process out loud until my GAS started feeling natural. Hitting that little compressed white ball suddenly became a thrill as I launched them farther than ever before. There are so many lessons in this one lesson. First is to go to a professional for a lesson instead of depending on instincts- or Google. Second, keep a lighter “grip” and not choke up- remember that when sending a child to college or watching them walk down the wedding aisle. Third, a comfortable “approach” is always better, even in an uncomfortable situation. Smiling is a good start and is less likely to scare people away. Finally, the “stance” we take should never look like cowering. We can bend a little and be flexible without giving up our position. In this I mean that we should know what we believe but always listen to others because their experience is very different from our own. I know I need to keep working on and practicing all these things in golf and life. The fundamentals of GAS will hopefully keep me in the fairway and less in the rough.
This week, I had to climb on the kitchen counter to reach a bowl from the top shelf above all our herbs and spices. Naturally, as I grasped the bowl, I nudged a bottle of dill seed and sent it careening to the granite countertop. I believe counter tops should be made of rubber and there would be less glass shattering. I know some of you are thinking rubber walls are a better idea. The question of the day is what are we doing with so many little bottles that are filled with dried flora, and why are they crammed on an unreachable shelf? Whoever created the first spice rack that is now a gift at every bridal shower, forgot to include the importance of each spice and seed and how to incorporate it in our daily lives. Maybe there was a time when the “Betty Crocker Cook Book” included recipes that called for every single savory and aromatic on those racks. The prevention of many illnesses are in fact in some of those jars as I have learned at “Taste and See” cooking classes. I now add turmeric, garlic and coriander to as many recipes as possible. But, I bet many of us have some unused and unopened bottles, that have been decorating our kitchen like cute little soldiers in a perfect line since the time we first started playing house. Celery salt, poppy seed, dill seed are all on the top shelf. And who designed kitchen shelves that require a step stool and acrobatics to get to the top? It seems that I keep stretching to obtain things well beyond my reach. As a follower of Jesus, I keep stretching for deeper biblical knowledge and understanding. Some lessons I learn shatter old perceptions. In an attempt to pursue optimal health daily, I seek better nutritional choices and try to fit in a little extra cardio exercise, but again some expectations have been shattered. I also stretch to find new opportunities for using my skills and try to resist giving up because of my limitations or lack of talent. The glass ceiling may be shattered for women, but becoming a productive senior can be a conundrum. Reaching and stretching hopefully results in growth and flexibility without breaking a bone, a heart or a spirit. Don’t think I wasted that dill seed. I tried to salvage some to sprinkle in my herb garden. In thyme I may grow more sage as I keep on stretching beyond my reach (how could I resist that one). Come and cook with me and we will spice it up, I might even bowl you over with some of my plant based recipes.
Yesterday, I went for a bike ride and decided to see if I could still ride “no handed” like I did forty years ago. There are many things I have not attempted in forty years like: handsprings, back dives into the pool, jumping off a thirty foot cliff into water, athletic competitions ( does golf count?) wearing a bikini, and staying up all night. It is not necessary to do those things anymore, but balancing on a bike seemed harmless and I was not trying to text message at the same time. I started with one hand free and then timidly let go just a little with the second hand only to grab the handle bar again quickly. The third try I found myself out of control and wobbling off the road. The rest of the ten mile ride I thought about balance and control. Who does not feel stressed when we lack control of a situation? Even a control “freak” will tell you that we seldom have full control. This is why I trust God to be in control, and the best I can do is engage in a little self-control. Our actions and thoughts are (for the most part) a personal choice, which includes sharing our ideas and opinions. A good test of self- control is to listen to or read an opinion and not add our own. Keeping quiet is very hard for me these days, but I am learning not everything requires my input. Moving on to balance. Balanced meals are easy, balancing work and recreation is a little harder, and balancing the budget seems to be impossible at times. To achieve balance we must pay attention to our whole spirit, soul and body. My focus lately is on the spirit and a time for reverence, thankfulness, unconditional love, charity to others and all pursuits that are born out of a relationship with our Savior. My physical balance may be impaired due to the tiniest inner ear issues. It can also be small things like an agitating thought that can block my joy and productivity, or a little disappointment can halt a healthy relationship with others or even worse, my faith in God. We cannot let small stuff throw our whole life off balance. To prepare for the bigger problems we need to be strong physically, mentally and spiritually. Allow the one who is perfect, wise, and forgiving to take control. When it comes to balance, I better stick with a “hands on” approach.
Yesterday, my hubby and I enjoyed a couple hours at the beach. We no longer try to tan in the sun, but instead cover from head to toe in SPF 50 lotion or spray. We wore hats and sunglasses and cover up shirts. We successfully kept from getting sunburned and left by noon. Yes, you must have a visual of a couple of nerdy oldsters who have no fun while hiding under an umbrella with a book – then I got out my boogie board. I love catching a wave and riding it to the shore. No one has joined me yet this year. Come on Totally Fit Friends, it’s time to go into deeper, cooler waters! Momentum is important for timing a cresting wave and letting it carry the foam board and rider, rather than flipping and pulling one under the current. I manage about one successful ride in three tries while the other two are sometimes fanny over tea cup. Either way, it is exciting and invigorating to feel the power of the water and the cool and salty refreshment. Then back to the beach chair to rest and coverup. I look at my sun speckled skin and truly wish there was a way to cover up all my old age spots. Panty hose used to work, but those are rarely seen at the beach. Spray on tan or leg makeup just seems a bit involved for me, so I choose transparency. There are events in my past I wish I could cover up as well. Don’t we all feel more beautiful with a flawless finish? Even if we could hide our past from others, there is still our own memory that won’t allow us to feel whole and perfect. We can, however, allow the Son of God to redeem us with His sacrificial love that covers a multitude of sins. I can’t undo the actions that caused damage, and even as I try to use protection to prevent more problems; I know the spots are still there for all to see. My children may say when they see me on the boogie board with arms and legs akimbo, ” Please stop! We can’t unsee such ridiculousness.” It doesn’t bother me to have others know my thrill over simple joys as I squeal with each ride to the shore. Also, I sing with unfettered joy whenever I can, in praise to the one who set me free. I hope forgiveness never runs dry when I do throw caution to the wind and the waves and the sun. Join me on the shores of Lake Erie or the Atlantic Ocean. There is plenty of room for frolic in the sun or under the clouds. Bring your sunblock. I’ll cover your back, would you please cover mine?